COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 31min
STARRING: Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, Amanda Peet
Lean on me: Keener and Platt
Writer-director Nicole Holofcener (Friends with Money) tells fine-drawn stories about the kinks and wrinkles of “ordinary” life. With Holofcener, it’s not so much what happens as the way it’s told — her observations are so telling and astute that they subvert clichés. So while Manhattan upscale second-hand furniture dealers Kate (Keener) and Alex (Platt) are familiar figures (she’s a materialistic bleeding heart; he’s a midlife strayer), Platt and Keener keep them grounded in a harried urban reality.
Crabby biddy Andra (Ann Guilbert) and her long-suffering single granddaughter Rebecca (Hall), who live in the apartment next door (which Kate and Alex are openly purchasing upon Andra’s death, shudder), are cut from similarly recognisable cloth. Ditto Peet as Rebecca’s sister Mary, a sunbed-browned, tart-talking beautician with whom Alex has a singularly joyless affair. This isn’t a boom-crash opera scenario; it’s the opposite end of the intelligence scale, in fact. But with so much boom-crash on offer in every cinema complex, hanging out with a bunch of whip-smart New Yorkers is an enlivening relief.